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Poster: Diamondhead Date: Jan 16, 2014 8:01pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Some Phil questions

In my life of watching concerts it seems a majority of the bassists seem to use their fingers instead of a pick. It seems quicker and more fluid that way (to me). Phil never did, right? Ok, doesn't. At least that's my impression. Can any bass experts around here enlighten as to why - and what the advantages and disadvantages are of each method?

Also, can anyone direct me to discussions or info about Phil's style and equipment changes over the years? I mean I can hear Jerry and pretty much know what year I'm hearing almost immediately. Plus I can hear his stylistic changes and folks around here have shared a lot about his guitars. Phil - not. Usually when I see reviews, it's more like oooh Phil is up in the mix or oooh he threw a lot of bombs.

Oh, and if you're not worn out, I'm interested in some opinions as to where he stands in the realm of great players.

Got bass? Info?

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Poster: Incornsyucopia Date: Jan 22, 2014 6:22pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Some Phil questions

If you or anyone else are at all interested I wrote a paper for a popular music analysis course for my MA in musicology a few years ago analyzing Phil's playing. It's posted on my blog: http://incornsyucopia.blogspot.ca/2009/02/music-analysis-article-searching-for.html. Would love to hear what you think.

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Poster: Diamondhead Date: Jan 22, 2014 6:49pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Some Phil questions

Thanks. I'll check it out for sure. I'll try to squeeze it in with my studying.

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Poster: mush72 Date: Jan 17, 2014 7:58am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Some Phil questions

I believe it has a lot to do with the consistency of the pitch and tone.

I know most people don't want to hear about Phish, but Mike Gordon had been a finger-style player for the first 10 years of the band. Then after talking with Phil, specifically about tone, he changed to a pick and a Modulus 5-string bass, and has been that way ever since. There's a Youtube video out there where Mike explains his playing and his entire rig...and basically says that he stole lots of the ideas for his rig from Phil...or maybe "borrowed" would be better word.

Both Phil and Mike have styles that aren't rooted in blues or jazz. They like playing off-beat rhythms that add a different texture to the music. The pick-style seems to work well for those styles.

For fast 16th note runs, and such, a pick could be used, but two fingers typical work better. Those runs aren't something that Phil was apt to do. Finger style is great for guys that are "pocket" players. Jack Casady offers a great antithesis to my statement here. But between Jack and Phil, they show you that with a pick or with your fingers, you can do a lot of different things with a bass.

As a very amateur bassist, I appreciate both styles, but I've never tried with a pick.

Sorry I don't give specific reference, but this is my understanding of why Phil uses a pick.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Jan 17, 2014 9:19am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Some Phil questions

Boy, you learn something everyday...I would've said Phil used fingers, but had no real idea (saw him from 74-82)...shows how back then it wasn't something you focused on, seriously.

I think Gordon is great, but only know him via things like playing with Kotke, etc.

So, jazz influence explains the greats like Bruce & Jaco, eh? RE: fingers...Cool.

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Poster: Diamondhead Date: Jan 17, 2014 4:14pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Some Phil questions

And since you're from my generation, don't forget about Larry Graham. He was the bassist for Sly and the Family Stone and invented that slap popping style that is now used by just about everyone.

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Poster: bluedevil Date: Jan 17, 2014 4:22pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Some Phil questions

He still plays - played with Prince last year in Oakland. And Les Claypool is the very first to admit his entire career is owed to Larry Graham.

Livewire: If you could name a bass player who might've sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads because they're that good - who would it be?

Claypool: Umm...probably Larry Graham, but if he heard me say that he'd probably shit a tomato because he is a very religious man. He nurtured his soul for the people he thinks it should be nurtured for. There is a certain amount of gift that you get - your genealogy or past lives or what you believe in or the Lord and then a lot of it is devotion and the love of what you're doing and where it becomes second nature.

http://www.concertlivewire.com/lesclaypoolint.htm

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Poster: mush72 Date: Jan 17, 2014 11:22am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Some Phil questions

I think that one other aspect that can be attributed to jazz guys using fingers is that they probably started on upright bass, rather than the bass guitar. Since Phil has no upright experience, he wasn't trained in that technique.

One player that used both with equal aptitude is John Paul Jones. He would use a pick for something like Whole Lotta Love when he would actually strum chords for a bigger sound with more attack (funny youtube video when he demonstrates it and explains that some magazine screwed up when they attempted to transcribe the song). But for other tracks, finger style worked great...think of the bass line on Ramble On. The more rounded sound there is probably due to finger style playing, positioned near the neck rather then the bridge.

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Poster: bluedevil Date: Jan 17, 2014 9:26am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Some Phil questions -hijack for Tell

No mention of Meg (maybe they can do Peg & Meg?)

http://www.jambase.com/Articles/120473/Jack-White-And-Neil-Young-Expected-To-Team-For-Covers-Album

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Poster: bluedevil Date: Jan 17, 2014 9:28am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Some Phil questions

I thought Gordon changed after Hells Angels broke his fingers for being a pedophile?

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Poster: jerlouvis Date: Jan 17, 2014 8:47am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Some Phil questions

If you scroll down to bass history there is some info on his guitars and amps.

http://www.philzone.com/leshlinks/phil-lesh-bio.html

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Poster: clashcity Date: Jan 17, 2014 6:46am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Some Phil questions

A friend of mine received this book as a gift and was thrilled with the contents.

http://www.dead.net/store/books/literature-biography/grateful-dead-gear-book

Not sure if it speaks to the pick or no pick approach to playing bass guitar though.

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Poster: philpacker Date: Jan 17, 2014 6:54am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Some Phil questions

Fingers vs pick is typically an issue of comfort and/or tone. I think Phil prefers the sharp, midrangey tone you get with a pick, although I recently saw a video of New Speedway Boogie circa '70 , where he was using his fingers. The differences in his instruments is pretty evident if you listen for it, primarily the Alembics of the '70's vs. the Modulus' of the '80's & '90's. Imo, his best tone was with the Ken Smith's he used in '90/'91, but the necks were comically wide and too hard to play.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Jan 17, 2014 9:22am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Some Phil questions

I think the great bass players are routinely under-rated. Of course, I hold Jack Bruce head and shoulders above the rest, but think Phil and Jack C are defn top five in my VERY biased, 60s rock based listing...

When you hear Phil do NPC, it is just fantastic, in 68; but to me, the way Bruce was driving this rubbery sounding line around Eric and Baker was one of kind astounding....

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Poster: Turnphilup to 11 Date: Jan 17, 2014 5:59am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Some Phil questions

Not all the answers your looking for, but a good start.

http://dozin.com/phil/lesh.htm

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Poster: leftwinger57 Date: Jan 23, 2014 3:25pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Some Phil questions

I think from memory a quick run down of Phil's gear would look something like this.A cherry red SG style Gibson w/ Fender Bassman cabinet and single amp head.Next was a Guild and then the amps stayed as Fenders but started to multiply for more power.Next was the hot rodded Guild and then on to the Alembics.Power now was w/ McIntosh 2300s 300wpc and has gone stereo.Wall of Sound not counting any other of the pa amps Phil used a stack of 4Macs and split the signal among the stacks and could if he chose to by p/u or string to come from what part of the stack or side.In 90s he went MIDI w/ Modulus basses 1st 4 then 6 string models and amps went digital.To add to the list of best rock bass players w#1 being Jack Cassidy,2.Jack Bruce3.Phil.4John Entwistle 5.Rick Danko6.overlooked but on many many albums played w/ Electric Flag Harvey Brooks.This is of course very subjective but I think all mainly were finger pickers.Oh my favorite Phil bass was the big Alembic w/ what looked like 10 or so knobs on it and not the next one w/ the star pattern at the knobs.